Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Coffee and Pumpkin: Fueling the Adventure

What's the adventure? Well LIFE! What a gift to be here, in this moment. Truly. Look at these insect lives all prepared for winter. Holy moly, we are agog, day in and day out at the wondrous nature of life, in all forms. 

Question Mark or Eastern Comma chrysalis on American Elm...

I don't say this tritely and I don't say this ignorant of the many challenges in this world, but we are alive and we have a duty to honor this gift. Steve and I personally have some chaff still to shed, but we are making progress. Our hearts are in nature, specifically exploration, observation, restoration and hiking. That sounds like enough to fill up the rest of these precious lives so that's what we are running with. We have found (as has everyone before us that followed their heart), you really do have to choose. Life DOES move on. You DO get older. Choose wisely once you know what's important to you.

As most of you know, we love coffee. This one is our favorite and our sacred ritual every morning of drinking from the same well worn, ceramic mugs, while tending cats and watching all the birds in the still standing and tippy plant stalks is how we roll around here this winter 2022/2023.  

On days when we head to Mohican State Park/Forest for hiking we also stop here for treats and an Americano. What you see in the photo is of course, a pumpkin muffin. I love most muffins and most baked items, but I really, really love pumpkin because not only does it taste so very yummy, but it fills me up. I don't like to eat right away in the morning, but once I do eat, I am usually hungry for the rest of the day so filling me up is a big deal. 

I get lucky around here because I am also married to a pie making man and he knows my adoration for pie and pumpkin and he also has to deal with me when I'm not full so he works to keep me full. ;)

Some days this caffeine fuels indoor paperwork and regular chores, 

and other days we use it to explore in all weather and at all times of year. Beaver at Gleason Family Nature Reserve in Morrow County made an incredible impoundment that attracted a late migrant American Bittern early December. As they were flying over and south, how could they not see it? Impossible. The water is so big and so flashy brilliant, it beckons life from all around. And how could we not see the bittern, just a foot off the trail and put to flight by us chattering humans? Also, impossible. So we delighted and exclaimed and felt like the luckiest people around.

Hiking big miles is harder when we have a morning ritual that lasts as long as it lasts and the days are dark by 5 p.m., but we get out anyways and hike as long as we can. 6 miles on this day took us through chestnut oaks and white oaks and black tupelo. We ate lunch in this spot right here:

and marveled at these itty bitty mushrooms at home in the leaves.

We sometimes lunch in another spot and watched, at the very end of summer, a Bald-faced Hornet queen go directly into a hole in this rotting log. This is no doubt her overwintering spot and so flabbergasted were we to be present and paying attention, I am still pondering this hole and all the other holes and crevices where little creatures are tucked in and safe for winter. So much hardier than we, are they.

The red squirrels that live on these 3.5 shared acres don't need caffeine, but somehow maintain boundless energy. These black walnut caches in all plant joints around are seriously cracking us up. Look right in the middle of this pokeweed and you will see a black dot. That's an intact and ready to eat black walnut. They are everywhere around here. Though my father would love it, we hope they aren't planning for a snow this deep.

The brush pile enhancement and stream water bar addition are fueled by a deep desire for restoration. It's something fundamental in us. We have to do it and then it's so miraculous we have to do more. 

Water connects us all and if you watch the video above about our stream restoration, you will hear I mention maps. Maps are fantastic. They are the keys to the landscape and giant worlds to explore in your mind and then on foot or however you can. This little hand drawn map from long ago shows the headwaters of so many major Ohio rivers and streams, all originating here, in this little loved and fairly abused (where isn't though really? we are from the Great Black Swamp...) Morrow County. Magic is in the making though here friends. Magic, I tell you. Committed humans, righting many wrongs. It will be longer than our lives no doubt, but it's beginning.

As an affirmation for the restoration, little gifts of apples and persimmons, and their desire to live, this Eastern Cottontail alerted us to someone coming in from the east. 

Oh, and how right they were. A Red Fox. Not common around here due to all the human fear, but still here. This one decided the apple was their snack instead.

And with that, we wish you a very Happy, Happy Winter Solstice. We made it! From here, it's just brighter and brighter and brighter. 


because it's time...

Let's be good humans.